Juan Battle is a Professor of Sociology, Public Health, & Urban Education at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (C.U.N.Y.).
Prof. Battle is a Fulbright Senior Specialist and was the Fulbright Distinguished Chair of Gender Studies at the University of Klagenfurt, Austria. His research interests include race, sexuality, and social justice. Further, he is a recent president of the Association of Black Sociologists and is actively involved with the American Sociological Association (ASA).
Question: Why do some women have an almost visceral dislike of Hilary Clinton?
Juan Battle: I used to do some polling work and stuff for her when she was running for the Senate the first time here in New York and I remember talking to these people who had organized some of these focus groups among white women. That was the first time I had ever been exposed to this sort of bimodal distribution of white women when it comes to Hillary Clinton. Either they loved her unconditionally or they wanted her hit by a bus and they wanted to be the ones driving the bus. And I was shocked by this. I thought that all white women love all white women and so therefore everybody got along. And I was like, what is going on? It just, it threw me off and I felt like Karen on “Will and Grace.” What’s going on? And so here is my theory. I can’t prove it, but here is my theory. There is a tacit agreement if you will, a prescriptive ethic, what ought to happen, then a descriptive ethic that does happen. We’re still talking about Hillary Clinton. The prescriptive ethic is if you’re with a man and he cheats on you, you leave him, period. That’s it. Hillary, her man cheated. We all heard about it. We all knew about it. It was an international sensation and Hillary didn’t leave. Well quite frankly, most women don’t leave. They just don’t because if most women left you know they say 50% of marriages end in divorce. I would argue 90% of marriages would end in divorce. So then what was it about Hillary that upset people so? It was because she was this sort of public manifestation of the fact of saying to men, “Yes you can cheat, yes we’ll get pissed off, but we’re going to stay.” And so you’ve violated the rule, if you will. The rule is you’re supposed to make them think you’re going to leave, and so surely “if Hillary doesn’t leave Bill then I ain't going to leave my man, but now that he knows that, you’ve shown him my hand.” And so I would condense that down to saying to Hillary Clinton, “How dare you be so strong as to not do something I was too weak to do? And you’ve shown the hand."
Recorded on March 2, 2010